Swedish duo JJ’s first full-length, whimsically titled jj n° 2 (n° 1 was a non-album single), ends with a song titled “Me & Dean.” In contrast with the rest of the album’s balmy electronic ambience and occasional references to American rap, this was, and is, a shambling, stripped-down acoustic ballad that borrows its refrain from Taylor Dayne’s 1987 hit “Tell It to My Heart.” “Someday, I know we’ll meet again,” the song begins, and it turns out that was right.
Elin Kastlander and Joakim Benon changed their project’s name to all-caps with a recent trailer for their upcoming V, which is due out August 19 via Sincerely Yours/Secretly Canadian and is — despite the Rocky- or Super Bowl-worthy Roman numeral — technically their third album (No. 2 was N° 3). Latest V track “Dean & Me” flips the title of that five-years-old debut LP finale, and it reverses the approach, too: Far from bare-bones, this is JJ in the swooning, tender mode of recent track “All White Everything.” Like “Me & Dean,” “Dean & Me” nods to familiar lyrics — in this case, both Lesley Gore’s classic “It’s My Party” and its “high if I want to” modification on Drake’s “Take Care.”
What JJ create with all this self-mythologization and allusion-making and drug talk is a space where they can express a gorgeous vulnerability: “I’m so in love, I could never ever tell you,” Kastlander sings, more hurriedly than the other lyrics. She and Dean, Dean and she: At the end, we’re told they “could be together” in more than song titles. In the meantime, that ache of not knowing keeps resulting in some sumptuous, beguilingly eccentric music.